The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a positive final appraisal determination (FAD) for Merck’s Erbitux (cetuximab) to treat patients with RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

NICE recommended the routine National Health Service (NHS) use of the drug in combination with either FOLFIRI or FOLFOX.

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The decision will expand the previous recommendation by NICE, which endorsed the use of the drug in combination with either FOLFOX or FOLFIRI only for patients whose cancer had spread to the liver.

Merck biopharma business oncology franchise global head Maya Martinez-Davis said: "The NICE decision is great news for patients and their families in England, as it now means they will have access to this effective first-line treatment.

"Our efforts in working with NICE to reach this important milestone are part of our relentless commitment to bringing tailored, effective therapies to patients worldwide."

"Our efforts in working with NICE to reach this important milestone are part of our relentless commitment to bringing tailored, effective therapies to patients worldwide."

The European Society for Medical Oncology and the US National Comprehensive Cancer Network clinical guidelines also recommend treatment with Erbitux for patients with mCRC.

Erbitux has obtained marketing authorisation in more than 90 countries worldwide.

The IgG1 monoclonal antibody Erbitux targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and is different from standard non-selective chemotherapy treatments.

Its most commonly reported side effect is an acne-like skin rash that seems to be correlated with a good response to therapy.